The Columbo Phile: A Casebook by Mark Dawidziak

By Mark Dawidziak

This is the final word sourcebook at the rumpled, cigar-smoking L.A. murder cop in a seedy raincoat: Lt. Columbo, as portrayed by means of Peter Falk. 50 images.

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In April, Sid Sheinberg asked Levinson and Link if they would produce a series version of Columbo. There was one little proviso. Falk would open in The Prisoner of Second Avenue on September 12. They needed to complete six ninety-minute episodes by then. " PART II THE FIRST SEASON (1971-72) "Columbo was the hardest work we've ever done. " - R I C H A R D LEVINSON Getting the Wrinkles in Even when pilot TV movies are successful, a network will rush to change things. Columbo was no exception. Although both Prescription: Murder and Ransom for a Dead Man had been ratings winners, NBC was still uneasy with the format.

R. Austin Freeman, author of such books as John Thorndyke's Cases (1909), The Eye of Osiris (1911) and The Singing Bone (1912), is credited with inventing the inverted mystery. Anthony Berkeley Cox, writing under the pseudonym of Francis Iles, used the open mystery in the 1931 novel Malice Aforethought. The character of Lieutenant Columbo also had definite literary ancestors. "There were two major influences that we're aware of," Levinson said. "The humbleness we got from Father Brown. The fawning manner we got from Petrovich in Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.

And The Name of the Game. " Sheinberg took the project to a second contract writer, who also turned it down. That sent him back to Hargrove, who was looking at ways to establish himself as a producer. "Sid Sheinberg offered me a bonus if I'd write the script," Hargrove recalled. "That was fine, but I had something else in mind. I only had a couple of producing credits at that time, and I asked him if I could be the producer for the pilot. I had a two- or three-page story notion by Levinson and Link.

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